Burnsall was fizzing with spring as GEORGE WILKINSON enjoyed a very nice seven-mile walk in the Dales.

BURNSALL was fizzing with spring. Blackbirds ferried nest material, rooks cawed from their churchyard nests and a dog splashed in the River Wharfe.

We set off down the river, past the pub, over the splendid five-arch bridge and soon left the lovely little village. Only about a hundred people live there, but soon the place will fill with visitors, as suggested by the two car parks.

We took the Dales Way, which mostly hugs the Wharfe. Gulls collected in a swing of the river, beyond the land rises steep to Burnsall and Thorpe Fell. Oystercatchers and a dipper arrowed upstream and long tailed tits flitted amongst the alders.

Lichens of yellow and grey encrusted the freshest twigs in testament to the pure Dales air and, talking of which, apparently Jeremy Clarkson has been polluting the atmosphere, up the road at Hawes, with some foul-mouthed rant; he needs levering from his Ferrari and sending on a long walk to, what was it Wordsworth wrote, "bring fair light to the soul"?

We had the riverside to ourselves except for a dry-stone waller, who worked away, with a fire, a dog and BBC Radio 4. Many of the walls are of rounded river stone.

Then, after a while, we met some self-proclaimed ‘ornithologists’ who were unimpressed by our sightings and didn’t burden us with a list of obscure small brown birds, but told us that one may see kingfishers, thinking rightly that we would recognise those at least.

The river had been wide and placid with hardly the rustle of a run, but then the flow narrowed and the Wharfe roared, and after that we left it and arrived at a place of lambs and garlic that was polluted by the syrupy strains of some musical emitting from a cottage.

The only visual pollution today was a caravan site. Caravans are something with which I agree with Jeremy Clarkson: he doubtless because they slow his Ferrari on such as our narrow Dales roads; me because they are ugly.

However, walkers of a sensitive disposition should note that my ever-considerate navigator devised a route to give the pastel boxes a wide birth and this resulted in a nice run down to the hamlet of Skyreholme, where the houses are jammed precipitously up against a stream in the Dales style.

Then came the climb, easy on a back road, and there’s a bench which looks across and up to Simon’s Seat, the notable rock outcrop on the edge of Barden Moor. Now the birds were those of upland grasslands, the curlew and the lapwing, and the path across the higher ground was the only rough bit of the walk, with good views on a clearer day.

The only muddy length followed, a grassy farm track somewhat churned, that brought us down to the hamlet of Hartlington and a quiet bit of road to finish a very nice walk.


When in doubt look at the map. Check your position at each point. Keep straight on unless otherwise directed (wm = waymark, fp = fingerpost).

1. From central car park, right to road, first road left uphill.

2. After St Wilfred’s Church, track on right (fp River Wharfe), 100 yards, gate, 25 yards, right to surfaced riverside path. Left to road, over bridge, 100 yards, squeezer on right (fp Dales Way) and immediately diagonally left across grass to path between trees. Gate, surfaced path, squeezer, diagonally across field to gated footbridge.

3. Through yard (fp Dales Way), squeezer, gates by barn, gate, surfaced path with about 10 gates, one squeezer, and steps. After a wood, path crosses field, gate to track.

4. Right to road, over bridge, immediately track on left (fp Howgill Lane), track uphill.

5. Left to good track at crossroads (Barden Moor info board). After 300 yards, old fieldgate on left to grass track (fp Skyreholme), angles downhill, gateways, ladderstile, small stream, gated footbridge over stream (fp), steps uphill to village, 50 yards in cul-de-sac.

6. Left to road, first road on right (sign Pateley Bridge), uphill.

7. On right-hand bend, ladderstile (fp Appletreewick ¾, Hartlington 1½), rough path by wall, large gateway and stay up by wall/hillside/rough pasture to your right, path contours.

8. Right of way angles down 50 yards to ladderstile (three-way fp Hartlington). Ignore nearby gates and angle uphill for 50 yards to gated stone wall stile, immediately left by wall to left, 500 yards, pass fingerpost. Left to track becomes muddy, pass farm buildings, some gates.

9. Right to road to return to Burnsall.

Fact file

Distance: Seven miles.
Car parking: Car parks or roadside in Burnsall.
Right of way: Public.
Date walked: March 2015.
Tourist information: Grassington TIC 01756 751690.
Refreshments: Inn and café in Burnsall.
Map: OS Explorer OL2 Yorkshire Dales southern and western.
Terrain: Riverside and higher.
Difficulty: Moderate.

Please observe the Country Code and park sensibly. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, walkers set out at their own risk.